Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #41 – Persian Miniatures Featuring Islamic Art and Architecture

I have been a very, very, VERY lazy blogger these few months…for no reason at all. I just feel depressed and moody that I thought I cannot produce a wise and informative post. For your information I just returned from a two week vacation to a certain place that didn’t made me refreshed at all but gave me a huge headache and probably leaving a generous scar on my psychological and spiritual health for the rest of my life BUT now I manage to collect some energy and out of my eat-work-sleep routine to bring you the first post of the month of May and also the first Imagining Islamic Aesthetics posting for quite some time. So, without further ado…

For this Imagining Islamic Aesthetics post, I would like to show you one of most celebrated, as well as frowned upon by Orthodox Muslims, form of Islamic Art – Miniatures. Persian miniatures, to be exact. However, This post will concentrate on works that feature Islamic art and Architecture ; Just like viewing an Islamic monument or structure, but in 2D!

Depictions of Islamic architecture in miniatures are surprisingly well done and detailed. You can see many typical Islamic art and architecture depicted in the miniatures such as domes, cupolas, arches, geometric designs and even Mashrabias and Muqarnas. Below are a few examples of Persian Miniatures that feature both indoor and outdoor Islamic art and architecture. (Photos are courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons)

Baysunghur’s Shahnameh, 1430

Note the elegant colour of gold used by the painter. This artwork displays immaculate attention to details especially to the dome and the arches. The dome  features an Arabesque design, and probably shows the decoration inside the dome.

Complex palace scene, 1539-43, Mir Sayyid Ali

This miniature features a scene in a palace and also many features of Islamic art and architecure – you can find domes, minaret, pavilions and archways.

Farhad meets Shirin. Persian (text) Miniature from poem “Khosrow and Shirin” of Nizami Ganjavi

This miniature shows an indoor scene. Note the windows on the upper part of the artwork with women peeking out of it – they feature Mashrabia-style decoration.

Bath-house scene by Behzād

A simpler miniature of a bath house scene. Along with the detailed work put on the architectural features of the scene (note the geometric designs on the floor, walls and window), a fine attention were also given on depicting the figures – even they were drawn in a very flat style, the figures were depicted somehow very lively ; you can see people getting a massage, washing themselves, changing clothes before entering the bathroom even a figure is seen hanging clothes (or presumably, towels)


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